Residents of newly-built housing block angry over slow response, reports by James Cracknell
A housing block in Walthamstow still has flammable cladding – two years after it was discovered.
The cladding at Gallery Court in Fulbourne Road was deemed to pose a fire risk in 2017. While it is not the same type as that blamed for spreading the deadly blaze at Grenfell Tower the same year, it was deemed dangerous enough to warrant replacement – with security hired as a safety precaution in the meantime.
However, residents recently received a letter explaining the removal of cladding “presents a number of challenges” and that plans to replace it were still being worked up. Charles Darkins, who lives in one of the flats owned by Sanctuary Housing, said: “Every year they increase rent and service charges and the service every year just gets worse – and the building still has flammable cladding.”
Kimberley De Vergori, Sanctuary’s head of housing, has vowed to replace the cladding. She said: “We have been working closely with specialist consultants, fire safety experts and the National House Building Council to ensure the design and technical specification of the new cladding system is of the highest possible standard.
“Residents will not be charged for any of this work. We have also reassured them the block remains compliant with current building regulations and that the aluminium composite cladding used at Gallery Court is different to the type on the Grenfell Tower.
“Our aim is to cause as little disruption as possible and until all the work is completed we will continue to pay for a waking watch at the block as an additional fire safety measure.”
As well as flammable cladding, residents have complained about a number of other issues, including persistently faulty lifts. A number of tenants have also unwittingly accrued rent arrears following an admin error.
Kimberley added: “One of the two lifts was out of order while our external contractors waited for a specialist part to arrive. The second lift has continued to work normally apart from an emergency repair carried out within a few hours. We can confirm both lifts are now working and we are sorry for any inconvenience caused.”